10-Year-Old Girl Battles Rare Breast Cancer

Hannah Powell-Auslam faced an exceedingly rare diagnosis for her age.

ByABC News
May 18, 2009, 6:34 PM

May 19, 2009— -- For many of the estimated 180,000 women whose doctors will tell them they have breast cancer this year, the diagnosis will no doubt come as a shock.

But for the parents of 10-year-old Hannah Powell-Auslam of Fullerton, Calif., who learned in early April that their daughter had breast cancer, the news was particularly hard to swallow.

"It should be the furthest thing from your mind," Hannah's mother Carrie Auslam told reporters from KCAL-TV in Los Angeles. "Ten-year-olds don't get breast cancer."

For Hannah, the realization that she would have to deal with a disease normally associated with women many times her age was a difficult one to take.

"I told my mom, I just wanna be a normal kid," she told reporters. "I want to go back to school, play sports, hang out with my friends. So I started crying."

According to the family Web site documenting Hannah's fight against her cancer, Hannah underwent surgery to remove her breast on May 7, and she will likely progress to chemotherapy to minimize the chances that the cancer will spread or recur.

But Hannah's family said that the girl has endured the diagnosis with remarkable strength. Today, after an operation to remove the tumor and the surrounding breast tissue, her parents say on a family blog that she is back home and now has become a young symbol of the fight against cancer.

As of Monday evening, requests by ABC News to contact both the family and Hannah's doctors were unsuccessful. Media reports have identified her cancer as an invasive ductal carcinoma at Stage IIA -- a type of cancer that oncologists say has rarely, if ever, been found in a girl of Hannah's age.

However, Hannah's father Jeremy Auslam said on the Web site that while his daughter had originally been diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, it was later changed to invasive secretory carcinoma. This type of cancer is also rare in girls of Hannah's age and younger; it has only ever been documented in perhaps a few hundred girls in this age group.

But Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said that the change in diagnosis is good news, if true.

"This type of cancer is also extremely rare, but in children is more common than ductal carcinoma," he said. "The rarity of this disease makes information about it scarce; nonetheless it is thought to be a slow growing tumor with an excellent prognosis."